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DWP disputes claims overpayments were made due to staffing cuts in Preston

Posted on - 3rd November, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston City Centre, Preston News, Uncategorized
Duchy House, Lancaster Road, where DWP administers Carers’ allowance. CREDIT: Google

The DWP has denied claims that overpayments of Carers’ Allowance which could see thousands of people face prosecution was caused by staffing cuts at its Preston administration centre.

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A report by The Guardian newspaper claimed more than a thousand carers face being prosecuted for fraud and a further 10,000 carers could face fines, as the Department of Work and Pensions prepares to recover money mistakenly paid out over several years.

Carers’Allowance is administered nationally at Duchy House, Lancaster Road, Preston, but one worker – who has asked to remain anonymous – told Blog Preston: “This problem has happened because DWP have cut staff there (from 900 staff across three of the four buildings in Preston Office Centre in 2007 to less than 400 in Duchy House today) and they didn’t have enough staff left to do basic data-matching with HMRC records.

“That’s allowed carers who don’t know the benefit rules to rack up overpayments of anything between 18 months to more than five years worth of benefit (from £5000 to over £15,000), all of which could have been stopped after a few months if DWP had put more staff on the data-matching.”

The Guardian report on October 7 said: “The DWP has had access to records from the taxman that allow it to check carers’ eligibility for the benefit, but continued to pay the sums anyway.”
“Following investigations into the overpayments, the DWP is understood to be seeking hundreds of criminal prosecutions, while others face fines through civil ‘compliance action’.

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